Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, December 8, 2011

Updated

OBAMA’S NEW SQUARE DEAL
BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST

For months, progressives have asked why Obama wasn’t invoking the populist language of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his attacks on “economic royalists” and “the privileged princes” of “new economic dynasties.” What progressives often forget is that FDR offered these words only when his first term was almost over, in his acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic National Convention. Roosevelt did not become a full-throated economic populist until the election was upon him — and only after he was pressed by a left and a labor movement that demanded more of him. Facing his own reelection and pushed by an Occupy Wall Street movement that has made economic inequality a driving issue in our politics, Barack Obama discovered both of his inner Roosevelts.

THE LAST HERMAN CAIN COLUMN
BY GAIL COLLINS
NEW YORK TIMES

We’ll know all too soon. The only part of [Cain’s] last chapter that remains sort of fascinating is Ginger White, the accuser who has been given credit in some corners for bringing the Cain campaign down. All things considered, that couldn’t have been much of a strain. (“Rumors of Extramarital Affair End Campaign of Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Know China Has Nuclear Weapons,” read a headline in The Onion.)

JOINING A DINNER IN A MUSLIN BROTHERHOOD HOME
BY NICHOLAS KRISTOF
NEW YORK TIMES

When I raised American concerns that Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood and the more extremist Salafis might replicate Iran, he was dismissive: “The experience of Iran will not be repeated in Egypt.” I think he’s right. Revolutions are often messy, and it took Americans seven years from their victory in the American Revolution at Yorktown to get a ratified Constitution. Indonesia, after its 1998 revolution, felt very much like Egypt does today. It endured upheavals from a fundamentalist Islamic current, yet it pulled through. So a bit of nervousness is fine, but let’s not overdo the hand-wringing — or lose perspective.

NOT WHAT MR. PUTIN PLANNED
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Putin has promised to shuffle the government next year. What he really needs to do is listen to voters who are demanding a real chance at political competition and economic opportunity. Unfortunately, he has long ago made clear his disdain for democracy. And while his approval ratings have declined, they remain, for now, above 60 percent. But the lesson of this week’s election is that Russians’ patience is not unlimited — and a surprising number can imagine a world after Putin.

RIGHTLY TARGETING INCOME INEQUALITY
EDITORIAL
WASHINGTON POST

The economic growth that will be essential cannot happen with the dampening overhang of ever-mounting debt. Nor can the spending Mr. Obama rightly prescribes for education, research and infrastructure. The president is right that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are unwise and unaffordable, but ending them won’t be enough. Carving out the fiscal space to make the needed investments will require far more than simply going after millionaires and billionaires. To quote the president, “That is not politics. That’s just math.”

OBAMA’S GODFATHER SPEECH
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
WALL STREET JOURNAL

You then have to wonder about the tenor of another Obama term in office. If in fact there are categories of Americans he simply doesn’t like, a second Obama term, like the last half of “Godfather II,” could be a clinical exercise in hammering the people he singled out in this speech. Metaphorically speaking… what the Democratic base would get out of an Obama re-election is political power, which counts for something. It lets you tell other people what to do. But nothing in that Kansas speech, especially the wealth taxes, will produce real growth in the dry economy America has had for three years. Strong growth is the only solution to the Osawatomie catalog of horrors. If he wins, five years from now, the president’s base will be about where it and nearly everyone else is today, trying to stay afloat in Barack Obama’s still waters.

THE NEWTITLEMENT STATE
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The contradictions of Mr. Gingrich’s entitlement plan reveal part of his political character, which is that his policies often don’t match the high-decibel, sometimes grandiose nature of his rhetoric. This can make it easier for his opponents to stigmatize his policies as more radical than they really are because Mr. Gingrich tells everyone they’re radical. He might achieve more if he spoke more softly and carried a bigger stick.

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Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, December 8, 2011

Updated